Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Bring back any memories? In my early teenage years, the store Ishka was a (literal) treasure trove of silver jewellery and incense burners (and loads of other stuff too but they are the things that stick in my mind). Those silver rings, inlaid with semiprecious stones or yin-yang symbols, were all the rage and I must have spent hours loitering in there, pouring over the display case, trying to choose how to invest my $12. This was a big deal, it was 1987 and my funds were limited.

I never did buy one, I could just never choose, and even back then, as now, 'ethnic' clothing and jewellery were not my thing. We have an alphabet book about 'exotic animals' and of course it makes me laugh that they include kangaroos - yeah exotic, depending on where you come from in the first place. Similarly, I find the word 'ethnic' uncomfortable because again, ethnic compared to what? One of the dictionary definitions is indeed "characteristic of or belonging to a non-Western cultural tradition", another is "relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition" which seems to equate the Western cultural tradition and the dominant group.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about Nine Lives. I particularly love the way that the colour scheme and patterning were inspired by the cover of a book about India but as we have just established, that is not my thing. I do, however, want to do something similar in choosing my yarns. There is actually a long history of the Western cultural tradition adopting elements of ethnic cultures, think the adoption of Japanese and African elements in modern art and the import of floral printed cottons and Kashmiri shawls to England in the nineteenth century. Ah, Kashmiri shawls - here's what the V&A has to say about them:

"The shawl became a popular fashion item in the nineteenth century with its migration from the foothills of the Himalayas to the salons of early nineteenth-century Europe."

'... the salons of early nineteenth-century Europe' - now that's somewhere that I can imagine myself. So, looking to the salons for inspiration and also the V&A website I am considering the following:

Either the red or burgundy will be the main colour, I really wanted to use the eau de nil that I had originally chosen and the yellow will be a good contrast with that. I hope that using the red and burgundy together will give the tonal effect that I had in mind. Ok, now that I have resolved the colourscheme I will put this aside for knitting in another lifetime.

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